“How will you celebrate family history month?” asks Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings blog.
For more and more people the answer appears to be by writing my life story. The San Joes Mercury News recently highlighted the phenomenon in a feature titled More Retirees Are Self-Publishing Their Memoirs As A Family Legacy. The Merc reported that AJ McDonald, a spokesman at Lulu.com, one of the popular websites providing DIY publishing tools, says 17 percent of the 1.1 million people who have used the site are seniors.
"Older folks go through this life review," says Elizabeth Fishel who has been teaching journalism at UC Berkeley for 20 years and also has taught memoir-writing out of her Oakland home during that same period. “A lot of seniors are at home and are filled with memories. They reflect on turning points in their lives. And many are motivated to write it down and pass along these lessons. They want to share this gift for posterity."
The desire to create a book is a wonderful impulse, but many of the seniors who respond to it do so with very little knowledge or experience concerning what it takes to get a book into print.
(Photo by Ckaroli under Creative Commons)
The Canadian, Canada’s national newspaper offers some advice for first time authors seeking to self publish. Among her Seven Book Publishing Mistakes to Avoid Earma Brown offers four suggestions that apply to getting the book written and produced. (The other three address issues of marketing which may not be of interest to people writing for a limited audience of family and friends.) Among the pitfalls she advises authors to avoid are:
- Failure to invest in Book Editing. Don't cut corners here. Invest in your book; get it professionally edited. Copy or line editing will bring your manuscript up to professional standard. Don't settle for just having your family member take a look at your manuscript:
- Failure to hire a book designer for book layout. The book layout is what structures the content of your book and makes it look like a book. Again invest in your book project; this is not the time to settle for anything less than a professional look
- Failure to get your book proofread. Beginner publishers skip this step in preparing their book for publication. Professional publishers know not to skip this step.
- Failure to invest in cover design.
It’s great advice. If you invest the time and effort to create a memoir or family history book you want it to be a volume you can be proud of when you present it to family and friends. You and your book deserve the professional help that will make sure that happens. The best thing is that you’ll find that quality editing and book design is surprisingly affordable.